Over a hundred action films were used as inspiration for developing the script. Filming took place over eleven weeks in early 2006, and featured an extensive cast along with various uncredited cameos. Visual effects were developed by ten artists to expand on or add explosions, gore, and gunfire scenes. The film debuted on 14 February 2007 in the United Kingdom and 20 April in the United States, grossing $80 million worldwide. Shortly after the film's release, two different soundtracks were released in the UK and US.
Police Constable Nicholas Angel, a high-achieving member of the Metropolitan Police Service, is transferred to the village of Sandford, Gloucestershire for making his colleagues look bad by comparison. Sandford is a crime-free idyll, a regular winner of "Village of the Year" awards, watched over by the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA). To Angel's frustration, the local police service is lazy and complacent. His new partner is Danny Butterman, son of Inspector Frank Butterman, who constantly discusses his love for action and buddy cop films.
After a local theatre performance of Romeo and Juliet, the actors in the lead roles, suspected of engaging in an affair, are murdered by a cloaked figure. Angel suspects foul play, but everyone else passes it off as an accident. When Angel is called to resolve a neighborhood dispute, he discovers a stash of unlicensed firearms and an old naval mine in an elderly man's shed. Angel confiscates the stash in the police department's evidence room.
Drinking in the village pub, Danny and Angel meet Simon Skinner, manager of the local supermarket, and George Merchant, a wealthy drunkard who made his fortune selling kitchen goods. Danny takes Angel home and the two binge-watch action movies. That evening, an unseen figure causes a gas explosion that destroys Merchant's mansion, killing him. The incident is deemed an accident and Angel is ridiculed for believing otherwise.
At the local fair, Tim Messenger, editor of the Sandford Citizen, approaches Angel, claiming to have information regarding Merchant. A robed figure topples a severed church spire onto Messenger, killing him. Angel persuades Frank that the incident was murder and discovers a link between the victims in the Sandford Citizen.
Leslie Tiller, the village florist, tells Angel she intends to sell her shop and move to the city. While Angel is distracted, Tiller is murdered by a cloaked figure. Angel gives chase but loses the killer. Angel accuses Skinner of the murders, but his alibi is backed up by video footage. Angel theorises they may be multiple killers, but Frank shoots down the idea.
As Angel returns home, he is attacked by Michael Armstrong, one of Skinner's supermarket employees. Angel subdues Armstrong and follows clues that lead him to a secret NWA meeting. Angel confronts the NWA and tries to arrest them. The group reveals that they kill residents who threaten Sandford's chances of winning the "Village of the Year" award. After Frank reveals himself as one of them, Angel flees and discovers the bodies of the NWA's many victims. As the NWA corners Angel, Danny appears and fakes Angel's murder. Pretending to dispose of the body, Danny helps Angel escape the NWA; he begs him to leave the village for his own safety.
At a petrol station, Angel is inspired by the movies he watched with Danny, and returns to Sandford. He arms himself with the confiscated guns and reunites with Danny. The pair engage in shootouts with the NWA, then besiege the supermarket with the rest of the police force, forcing Skinner to flee with Inspector Butterman. After a car chase that ends in a model village of Sandford itself, Skinner and Frank are arrested.
Angel's former superiors beg him to return to London, as the crime rate has risen in his absence, but Angel remains in Sandford. As the officers process the paperwork, Tom Weaver, the last NWA member, attempts to kill Angel. Danny takes a bullet for Angel, and in the process Weaver accidentally activates the confiscated naval mine, destroying the station and killing him. One year later, Angel and Danny are in charge of the Sandford Police as Inspector and Sergeant, respectively.
Wright wanted to write and direct a cop film because "there isn't really any tradition of cop films in the UK... We felt that every other country in the world had its own tradition of great cop action films and we had none." Wright and Pegg spent eighteen months writing the script. The first draft took eight months to develop, and after watching 138 cop-related films for dialogue and plot ideas and conducting over fifty interviews with police officers for research, the script was completed after another nine months. The title was based on the various two-word titles of action films in the 1980s and 1990s. In one interview Wright declared that he "wanted to make a title that really had very little meaning...like Lethal Weapon and Point Break and Executive Decision." In the same interview, Pegg joked that many action films' titles "seem to be generated from two hats filled with adjectives and nouns and you just, 'Okay, that'll do.'" While writing the script, the film's director and writer, Edgar Wright, as well as Pegg, intended to include Frost as the partner for Pegg's character. Frost revealed that he would do the film only if he could name his character, and he chose "Danny Butterman".
During the latter half of 2005, Working Title approached several towns in South West England looking for an appropriate filming location. Pegg commented, "We're both [Pegg and Wright] from the West Country so it just seemed like it was the perfect and logical thing to drag those kind of ideas and those genres and those clichés back to our beginnings to where we grew up, so you could see high-octane balls-to-the-wall action in Frome". Stow-on-the-Wold was considered amongst others, but after being turned away, the company settled upon Wells in Somerset, Wright's hometown, of which he has said "I love it but I also want to trash it". Wells Cathedral was digitally painted out of every shot of the cathedral city, as Wright wanted the Church of St. Cuthbert to be the centre building for the fictional town of Sandford; however, the Bishop's Palace is identifiable in some shots (and was itself used as the setting for some scenes). While shooting scenes in their uniforms, Pegg and Frost were often mistaken for genuine police officers and asked for directions by passers-by. Filming also took place at the Hendon Police College, including the driving school skid pan and athletic track. Filming commenced on 19 March 2006 and lasted for eleven weeks. After editing, Wright ended up cutting half an hour of footage from the film.
Wright has said that Hot Fuzz takes elements from his final amateur film, Dead Right, which he described as both "Lethal Weapon set in Somerset" and "a Dirty Harry film in Somerset". He uses some of the same locations in both films, including the Somerfield supermarket, where he used to work as a shelf-stacker.
References to Shaun of the Dead are also present in the film. In one scene, Nicholas wants to chase a shoplifter by jumping over garden fences; however, Danny is reluctant. Nicholas says, "What's the matter, Danny? You never taken a shortcut before?" He smiles assuredly before jumping over three in a row (according to the DVD commentary, Pegg vaulted over three fences, and a stunt man did a back flip over the fourth). When Danny attempts it, he trips and falls through the fence. This is almost identical to a scene in Shaun of the Dead, including the fall-through-fence gag, albeit with the pratfalling role reverse: in Shaun of the Dead it happens to Pegg's character rather than Frost's, and he falls over the fence rather than through it. The DVD commentary says that Frost purposely looked back at the camera after crashing through the fence, to show that he had done the stunt rather than someone else.
Frost's characters (Danny in Hot Fuzz, Ed in Shaun of the Dead) have a liking for Cornettos. Pegg and Wright have referred to Hot Fuzz as being the second film in "Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy" with Shaun of the Dead as the first and The World's End as the third.
Various scenes in Hot Fuzz feature a variety of action film DVDs such as Supercop and scenes from Point Break and Bad Boys II. Wright revealed that he had to get permission from every actor in each video clip, including stunt men, to use the clips and for the use of the DVD covers had to pay for the rights from the respective studios. The film parodies clichés used in other action movies. On the topic of perceived gun fetishes in these movies, Pegg has said, "Men can't do that thing, which is the greatest achievement of humankind, which is to make another human, so we make metal versions of our own penises and fire more bits of metal out of the end into people's heads... It's our turn to grab the gun by the hilt and fire it into your face." Despite this, Pegg maintains that the film is not a spoof, in that "They lack the sneer that a lot of parodies have that look down on their source material. Because we're looking up to it." The film also includes various references to The Wicker Man, in which Edward Woodward had played a policeman tough on law and order.
To illustrate the destruction of the mansion as a result of the gas explosion, gas mortars were placed in front of the building to create large-scale fireballs. The wave of fire engulfs the camera, and to achieve that effect, gas mortars were used again but were fired upwards into a black ceiling piece that sloped up towards the camera. When the sequence was shot at a high speed, the flames appeared to surge across the ground. For one of the final scenes of the film, the Sandford police station is destroyed by an explosion. Part of the explosion was created by using a set model that showed its windows being blown out, while the building remained intact. The actual destruction of the building was depicted by exploding a miniature model of the station.
Similar to the work in Shaun of the Dead, blood and gore was prevalent throughout the film. Visual effects supervisor Richard Briscoe revealed the rationale for using the large amounts of blood: "In many ways, the more extreme you make it, the more people know it is stylised and enjoy the humour inherent in how ridiculous it is. It's rather like the (eventually) limbless Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail." The most time-consuming gore sequence involved a character's head being crushed by a section of a church. A dummy was used against a green screen and the head was detonated at the point when the object was about to impact the body. Throughout the film, over seventy gunfight shots were digitally augmented; Briscoe's rationale for adding the additional effects was that "The town square shootout, for example, is full of extra little hits scattered throughout, so that it feels like our hero characters really do have it all going off, all around them. It was a great demonstration of [how] seemingly very trivial enhancements can make a difference when combined across a sequence."
The first two teaser trailers were released on 16 October 2006. Wright, Pegg, and Frost maintained several video blogs, which were released at various times throughout the production of the film. Wright and Frost held a panel at the 2006 Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California to promote Hot Fuzz, which included preliminary footage and a question and answer session. The two returned to the convention again in 2007 to promote the US DVD release. Advance screenings of the film took place on 14 February 2007 in the UK and the world premiere was on 16 February 2007. The premiere included escorts from motorcycle police officers and the use of blue carpet instead of the traditional red carpet.
Hot Fuzz received critical acclaim. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 91% approval rating with an average rating of 7.7/10 based on 199 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "The brilliant minds behind Shaun of the Dead successfully take a shot at the buddy cop genre with Hot Fuzz. The result is a bitingly satiric and hugely entertaining parody." It also has a Metacritic score of 81/100. Olly Richards of Empire praised the chemistry between Pegg and Frost, saying: "After almost a decade together, they're clearly so comfortable in each other's presence that they feel no need to fight for the punchline, making them terrific company for two hours". Johnny Vaughan of The Sun already called it the "most arresting Brit-com of 2007". Phillip French of The Observer, who did not care for Shaun of the Dead, warmed to the comedy team in this film. The film also received positive reviews in the United States. Derek Elley of Variety praised Broadbent and Dalton as "especially good as Angel's hail-fellow-well-met superior and oily No. 1 suspect". As an homage to the genre, the film was well received by screenwriter Shane Black. On Spill.com, it got their 2nd-highest rating of 'Full Price!!'.
The Daily Mirror gave Hot Fuzz only 2/5, stating that "many of the jokes miss their target" as the film becomes more action-based. Daily Mail also shared The Mirror's view, saying, "It's the lack of any serious intent that means too much of it is desperately unamusing, and unamusingly desperate". Anthony Quinn of The Independent said, "The same impish spirit [as in Spaced] is uncorked here, but it has been fatally indulged".
The film generated £7.1 million in its first weekend of release in the United Kingdom on 14 February 2007. In the 20 April US opening weekend, the film grossed $5.8 million from only 825 cinemas, making it the highest per-cinema average of any film in the top ten that week. Its opening weekend take beat the $3.3 million opening weekend gross of Pegg and Wright's previous film, Shaun of the Dead. In its second weekend of release, Rogue Pictures expanded the film's cinema count from 825 to 1,272 and it grossed $4.9 million, representing a 17% dip in the gross. Altogether, Hot Fuzz grossed $80,573,774 worldwide. In nine weeks, the film earned nearly twice what Shaun of the Dead made in the US, and more than three times its gross in other countries.
The DVD was released on 11 June 2007 in the UK. Over one million DVDs were sold in the UK in the first four weeks of its release. The two-disc set contains the feature film with commentaries, outtakes, storyboards, deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, video blogs, featurettes, galleries, and some hidden easter eggs. The DVD also features Wright's last amateur film, Dead Right, which he described as "Hot Fuzz without the budget". Due to the above release date, the film arrived on region 2 DVD earlier than the theatrical release date in Germany on 14 June 2007. In the commentary with director Wright and fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, they discuss nearly 200 films.
The US DVD and HD DVD release was on 31 July 2007. It opened at #2 at the American DVD sales chart, selling 853,000 units for over $14m in revenue. As per the latest figures,1,923,000 units have been sold, acquiring revenue of $33.3 million. The HD DVD edition has more special features than the standard DVD release. A three-disc collector's edition was released on 27 November 2007 and a Blu-ray edition on 22 September 2009.
The soundtrack album, Hot Fuzz: Music from the Motion Picture, was released on 19 February 2007 in the United Kingdom, and on 17 April 2007 in the United States and Canada. The UK release contains 22 tracks, and the North American release has 14. The film's score is by British composer David Arnold, who scored the James Bond film series from 1997 to 2008. The soundtrack album's "Hot Fuzz Suite" is a compilation of excerpts from Arnold's score. According to the DVD commentary, the scenes where Nicholas Angel is at a convenience store, while leaving Sandford, and his return to the police station while arming for the final shootout (found in the track "Avenging Angel"), were scored by Robert Rodríguez, who did not see the rest of the film while writing the music.
Other music from the film is a mix of 1960s and 1970s British rock (The Kinks, T.Rex, The Move, Sweet, The Troggs, Arthur Brown, Cloud 69, Cozy Powell, Dire Straits), new wave (Adam Ant, XTC) and a Glaswegian indie band (The Fratellis). The soundtrack album features dialogue extracts by Pegg, Frost, and other cast members, mostly embedded in the music tracks. The song selection also includes some police-themed titles, including Supergrass' "Caught by the Fuzz" as well as "Here Come the Fuzz", which was specially composed for the film by Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion.